CONTACT! Live Blogging; "These Particular Circumstances"

8:13PM – Concertmaster takes the stage, ensemble tunes . . . Gilbert takes a bow . . . and we’re off . . .

. . . Briefly clangorous opening gesture, followed by quiet little turns in the winds, like Lutoslawski’s ad lib music . . . music builds to some brief moments both of intensity and sonority . . . the music is quiet colorful, with a really expressive language and a commitment to dramatic gestures . . . keep thinking of Lutoslawski, a great and important master of making music with a chaotic aspect yet still in complete overall control of his materials and structures, and very fine example to emulate . . . now the instruments trade off a rapidly rising run, which turns into a quote from The Planets, a charming surprise . . . rapid, bright and lively . . . now there’s a slightly boozy quality to the music the strings (a quartet with bass) are playing, and I’m always in favor of that . . . fascinating orchestration here, trills, chattering and percussion, has a real physical quality, you can almost smell and taste it . . . dialogue between muted trumpet and cello in high register . . . music is now pensive, going effectively through a variety of emotional states, neither rushing nor lingering . . . the writing is imaginative and active while feeling organic, never arbitrary . . . first bit of post-Minimal language, interesting that it’s taken so long to appear in a piece by an American composer just over 30 . . . two fairly young people leaving, Philistines! . . .  no, I didn’t shout . . . this part is making a deliberate, fanfare like statement, feels like a coda . . . good call on that coda, if I may say so.  Generous and deserved applause, very well-crafted piece, really holds the attention.  Nice to hear this kind of contemporary neo-Romanticism.  Playing by the Philharmonic ensemble seemed totally sharp, confident and controlled.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.